Keeping your teeth clean is more important than ever when you have braces! Food bits have more spots than usual to hide in your mouth, so you must be diligent in order to avoid bad breath, swollen gums, discolored teeth and cavities. If you remove plaque regularly during treatment, you will experience better results and a shorter treatment time. Dr. Chou in Toronto wants to help you to keep plaque at bay with these top ten tips:
1. One tooth at a time! When you brush, take time with each individual tooth. Spend at least 10 seconds on each one and pay careful attention to the spots where the braces cement attaches to your teeth.
2. It's all about the angles! Make two passes with the toothbrush in all areas of your mouth, one with the toothbrush angled upwards and one with it angled downwards.
3. The tooth, the whole tooth, nothing but the tooth! While the front surface of your teeth may seem like the most logical to clean, it's equally important to clean the back surface of your teeth (tongue side) as well as the chewing surface. And be sure to clean along your gum line a key spot for plaque buildup.
4. Step 1: eat, step 2: clean! While you are in treatment, it is important to brush after every meal. Bits of food can easily get caught in the braces and between the teeth, and these food bits interact with bacteria in your mouth to cause tooth decay. The longer food is in contact with your teeth, the greater the opportunity for plaque to form. If you are eating somewhere where you cannot brush, thoroughly rinse your mouth with water. Keeping your teeth and braces clean is not only good for your health, but also assures that you do not "gross out" your friends and acquaintances with food all over your teeth! They really don't want to know what you had for lunch!
5. Always be prepared! The easiest way to be sure you can brush after every meal is to get in the habit of taking a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss with you wherever you go. Designate a special container just for your teeth-cleaning tools and keep it in your purse, backpack, or laptop case.
6. Remove the moving parts! If you have elastic bands or headgear, remove these parts before you brush or floss.
7. Fluoride is your friend with or without braces! Fluoride helps prevent cavities. Be sure to brush with fluoride toothpaste, and rinse with fluoride mouthwash.
8. Pointy brushes reach tiny places! Interproximal brushes (sometimes called proxy brushes or interdental brushes) are cone-shaped and come in very handy for reaching spots around your braces that standard brushes can't.
9. Find the floss for you! Regular floss works for some patients, but others find it easier to work with a floss threader, which helps you get the floss into tight places. Some patients prefer an all-in-one product such as Superfloss, which comes with a stiff end for easy threading, a spongy section for cleaning wide spaces, and regular floss for narrow spaces. Dr. Chou also has "Floss Fish" which are fish-shaped plastic gizmos which make flossing easier.
10. Make time for the pros! It is your job to take care of the everyday cleaning. But make sure to visit your dentist regularly while in treatment, to get the deep, thorough cleaning that only a professional can provide.